Autumn Series: Horror Movies For Those Who Like To Sleep At Night

October is in full swing. I thought I would take this month to do some more autumn themed blog posts and have a little fun. Many of us love the fall season, I could go on listing the different parts of the autumn months that make people excited but we already know all of them. For Floridians however, the cold weather and changing leaves is not really something we experience. Therefore when holidays rolls around most of us deep dive into decorating and themed activities to make it feel like fall. One of my favorite things to do this month is watch scary movies. I’m not super into slashers and I haven’t watched all of the classics; therefore my Halloween playlist looks a little bit different to most. I decided to also take into consideration those individuals that may not enjoy scary movies but would still like to get into the Halloween spirit…no pun intended. (Yes this list is all my opinion, some of you will probably read this and think these are all still terrifying…to each there own)

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Hold The Dark (2018)

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Nothing super groundbreaking here but I thought this movie was decent for a Netflix original. More of a thriller/mystery than a horror film but the entirety of the movie depends on a creepy atmosphere. Dark in terms of both pallet and story line, yet Hold The Dark won’t send you screaming into your pillow.

The Shining (1980)

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Some may disagree, but I think this movie doesn’t get even remotely scary until the last act. Yeah the twins are super creepy but the age of the film rubs off on the overall horror factor. Yes this movie is amazing as well as revolutionary for it’s time but you probably won’t find yourself shaking in your boots.

Psycho (1960)

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If you want to get into scary movies in time for Halloween you can’t go wrong with the classics. For the few of you that haven’t seen beyond the iconic shower scene, Psycho has a great story line as well as interesting characters. This is a perfect film to put on on a gloomy day with a bunch of friends. It has just enough spooks to keep you entertained without giving you nightmares.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

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I wish I could be born at a different time so I could watch this without knowing the entire plot. Still this movie is a classic for a reason. When I first started wanting to watch scary movies, my brother would watch M. Night Shyamalan films with me (only the decent ones of course, The Happening is purely for nights when I want a good laugh). The core of this film is more a moving drama, but has a few scary moments to make you feel the Halloween atmosphere.

Get Out (2017)

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Genres aside, this is one of the best movies ever made. Horrifying in a more real sense than cliches. For the few that haven’t seen Get Out you are truly missing out. More groundbreaking than scary, but still wildly entertaining.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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I LOVE THIS MOVIE. This film just barely falls into the horror category, although the premise is pretty freaky. Still, the lead character is incredibly intelligent, making you excited for whatever choice she will make next rather than terrified of what may happen to her.

The Invitation (2015)

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While most of this list is not really put into any kind of order, this movie belongs at the top. I think The Invitation is one the most underrated movies of recent years. The performances are great and I have a soft spot for a slow burn film. A creepy atmosphere without going over the top, saving the intensity for just the right moments.


So that’s my list of all my favorite “sorta” scary films. What are your favorite spooky movies? I’d love to know! Hate all types of spooky films? How do you get in the Autumn Spirit? As always thanks for reading and Happy October!

When It's Hard To Be Still

I don’t have a problem saying no. I don’t have an issue over committing to things. I love my alone time and I love my social time. Sometimes I can be pretty lazy and I don’t feel guilty about it. For so long I looked at that as me being excellent at “self-care” or “relaxing”. I even saw it as me being strong in my faith because I was “giving up control”.

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Lately I have been searching for a new job to round out my schedule, therefore I have had a lot of time on my hands. Yet I feel as though I have been very busy. I have treated each new day as an opportunity to be distracted. Whether that be advancing in my Hogwarts Mystery game on my phone (you guys its so addicting) art projects, or reorganizing my closet, I feel like I need to be constantly distracted. Any moment of down time was always layered with something else. If I’m lying down, I have my phone or computer with me. If I am doing the dishes, I like for there to be some kind of noise taking place. When I am driving I must have music playing.

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Yes in my head I was checking off all the boxes of self care and being productive. I didn’t suppress any sad emotions I was maybe feeling. I’ve been doing pretty good. But then today I felt like the Lord was saying “what if you would TRULY be still and know”. Could I still trust in The Lords plan if I just stopped. If I put everything away for a moment, let my mind be completely present, would I try to regain control? Would I still completely trust in Him if I didn’t constantly try distract from my reality?


Keeping yourself occupied is good. Relaxing is good. But I’m realizing that I need to call myself out on the fact that even when I am “relaxing’ or “putting myself first” I can still neglect simply sitting in The Lord’s presence. We need to find a balance between all three (business, relaxing, and being still). So I want to challenge all of us, myself included to carve out time to sit with Him. Life will keep spinning around us, there is nothing we can do to change that. For me, I am going to strive to wake up each day as not another day where I don’t have the perfect job…but a new day in living in The Lord’s grace and promise.

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You Deserve To Be Sad

Sorry I used click bait. Well I only kind of did, it depends on how you read this title. Did you read it as You Deserve To Be Sad? YOU DESERVE TO BE SAD! or You Deserve To Be Sad. If your brain looks like mine… this title is meant to be the latter. Because we deserve to no longer be held to the standard that we should always be fine.

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The other day I cried. For the first time in a long time. Nothing too terrible happened but I was feeling sad. So I sat on my bed and sobbed. Mascara went all over my pillow and my nose looked a lot like Rudolf’s. In the moment it felt like nothing would ever get better. I then fell asleep on top of the covers. The next day I woke up a little more mellow, and even much more refreshed. In the midst of having a mini breakdown I felt as though The Lord grounded me. I was reminded that my foundation was strong and that even though I had a moment of visible brokenness, I was not destroyed by it. No nothing was fixed over night and no I wasn’t magically fine the next day. I realized its possible for life to get harder yet better at the same time.

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The more time past from that moment the better I felt. I was able to acknowledge even more of the good after I took some time to acknowledge what was not so good. So many of us have a hard time finding that happy medium. We either ignore what bothers us or we spend all of our time moping around. I firmly believe we deserve some moments where we just straight up feel terrible, we cry until we can’t cry anymore. But then we acknowledge the joy that comes with every new morning. You deserve to be sad because you deserve to be happy and free.

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Now Is Good

When I was a little I couldn't wait to be old enough to babysit. When I was old enough to babysit I couldn't wait until high school. When I was in high school I couldn't wait for college. When I reached college I couldn't wait to graduate and get a job. It is no secret that many of us spend the majority of our time waiting for "the next thing". As well as wishing we weren't were we are now. There is a difference between getting excited about the future and idolizing your future. I think when we idolize our future we let down our present selves. 

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Growing up in youth ministry, then quickly spending most of my time volunteering in youth ministry after graduation, I heard the phrase "the youth are the future of the church" many times. When I was in high school I loved hearing that. It meant that once I got older I would do so much to impact the lives of others. As an adult I have a strong dislike of this phrase. I believe it takes away the value of what people are doing in the now. Why not say "youth are the church"? We should value what people can do now and encourage that as we move forward. 

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Waiting for the next great thing to happen in your life is difficult. No one really enjoys it. Many of us look at it as a time to grow and be humbled. But who says we can't enjoy the waiting process right now? I am currently in a season of waiting, and while it has its difficult moments, this has been the happiest I may have ever been. Looking at where I am right now, I'm living in the good old days (Que Andy Bernard quote for my The Office fans). Through waiting I am learning so much about myself. I finally stopped idolizing what I know will be a great future, but looked at my present and what a gift it is. 

The sun rises every morning. I get to sip delicious coffee and talk to people I love. Everyday is a new opportunity to create and be in community. I know my future will be great and it makes me excited, but in this moment as I wait, now is very good. 

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Optimists Are Not Naive

I spent many years of my life being afraid. My palms would sweat if the news was on before dinner, dreading whatever story was about to break. Any time someone mentioned anything bad going on in our world I would frantically try to change the subject. Realizing the weight of the world's reality was a true punch to the gut. And living in denial only made my anxieties worsen.

My time was spent trying to control something that was 120% out of my hands. Yes the world will always have something miserable happening but why would I still force myself to also living miserably? 

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I remember one year coming to school the day after an election. The amount of stress in the halls was so tangible you could breathe it in. I sat in my desk and a fellow classmate asked me if I was worried. I politely told them I was not, where they quickly added that I should be. My calm was only coming from The Lord and I told this fellow believer that I had no doubt God was in control. They rolled their eyes and called me naive. 

Similar interactions have taken place over the years. I feel as though there is a a level of anger pointed towards people who remain optimistic during trying times. I know I've felt angry at people who can remain calm when it seems like everything has hit the fan. But here's what I think we are forgetting:

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Optimistic people do grieve. They hurt. And they mourn. They are aware of terrible realities. The difference is they choose to move forward living the best life they possibly can with what they have, and this looks different for everyone. And it's okay if it takes you longer to get there. It took me a VERY long time to get to that place. (Also if you are an optimist, never try to force someone to be at the same level as you). My wish for you is to not live in a place of fear, but to live in a place of hope and take your time. Rest in the fact that tomorrow the sun will rise and a new day is waiting for you. 

 

Get Up And Leave Your Circle

Remember that really awkward feeling you had in middle school: you were standing in the hall between classes and all the people you're half friends with were talking in a circle...but the idea of even approaching the circle made you sick to your stomach? Or you were brave enough to insert yourself and everyone looked at you like you didn't belong? Now how many of you...who are a lot older that middle school age are saying to yourself right now "I still get that feeling sometimes". We live in a world of circles. There are circles we are a part of, circles we despise because we won't be let into them and circles we really want to join (yes the last two are different). 

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Growing up I went through many phases of "circles". Most of the time I didn't have one and floated around to many different kinds of people and friendships. When I didn't have my circle I tried to do as much as I could to meet people. I was more outgoing to people I didn't know and talked to people I normally would not talk to. Yet when I went through "popular phases" I did not do that quiet as much. I had my friends...why would I need to talk to other people? There have even been times where new people have entered my life and I would think about not pursuing any form of friendship because I already had my people. 

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Now this is not a post that is meant to bash people who have close knit friends. I love my close knit friends. They're amazing. What I love the most about my close friends however is that we can be so similar yet we are so different. I love (and sometimes hate) that a lot of them live in different states, and that some of them live a couple exits off the highway. Each of them adds something different and amazing to my life. But recently I was noticing, while it is a blessing to have close knit groups of friends...that meant not much would be changing in my life. 

I was so grateful to be invited to a book club a few months back. We are four ladies who are all totally different from each other. We talk about movies, work, kids and many other things. Its wonderful. And I'm noticing that I crave even more. My life feels rich and sweet when my horizons are expanded. So why not go take a cooking class? Or invite an acquaintance out for coffee?  Maybe it'll be awkward but I highly doubt you'll wish you didn't take that leap. Never stop trying to make new friends or look for new experiences. So many of us can be oh so lonely and community is what brings us into The Lords sweet sweet joy. 

Sisterhood, Jealousy, and Freedom

Five years ago, you could not find a more jealous individual than yours truly. If one of my beautiful female friends so much as talked to a guy I liked my mind would go straight to "wow they are really getting along, wow he must think she so much prettier than me, wow she sucks as a friend, I can't believe they will have babies in the next five seconds." Sad and silly...but all too true. Or I would get angry when friends of mine would "imitate" a style of mine. I would think "you don't have the right to get compliments for something I did first." Then it would be even worse when a dear friend, a fellow sister, would accomplish something that I had been striving to achieve myself. I would think..."I work hard, why do they get that reward before me? I deserve this." 

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It was about six months ago when I heard something that completely changed my mind about everything I used to believe and feel about what I just mentioned. I was tidying up my space, listening to the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You. They were talking about social media, comparison, and all that good stuff. Then one of the hosts dropped one of the best truth bombs of all time:

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"Her success is not your failure."  

Maybe that seems simple to some, but that blew my mind. For years I wasted time and energy wishing something to change that was never going to. By not encouraging my fellow sisters I believe I was essentially wishing ill upon them. After some time of self discovery and many triumphs of my dear female friends I realized something huge: I was actually happy. Typing this I kinda feel like I used to be a huge jerk but I know I am not alone. So many of us have a really hard time encouraging our friends and not being jealous. But I am hear today to tell you that on the other side of that is something so beautiful and so freeing. And it will make you cherish your female friendships so much more. 

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The other day I sat having lunch with two of my best ladies. We talked about new job opportunities and where our lives were going. My friend looked at me and said she was so proud and happy for me. That she was so happy for the journey I was on and happy that I was being blessed in small ways during this time. We spent the remainder of our time relishing in each others small fortunes.

I have also had a few friends get engaged and married. And let me tell you, experiencing a wedding of a dear friend without a single bitter single bone in my body is a joyful experience. Or feel those tears of joy come on when a sister gets engaged. I love being that person. She's much more exciting than the one brewing in bitterness. That girl doesn't get out much. That girl is not free.

Now to my ladies who feel like nothing good has happened to them in a very long time, I see you. You are an inspiration. Because you keep going, and you inspire me to keep going. You are worth it and you are treasured. Fighting bitterness and jealousy is damn difficult. But know that there is a sweet haven waiting for you on the other side. Women deserve to embrace each other in that land of delicious freedom.

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Songs That Get Mental Health

In my life I have witnessed many people who have tried so hard to understand what it means to understand what it means to have struggles with mental health. I have also witnessed a few people who have chosen to accept that they will never understand what it means to have struggles with mental health. Its a hard position to be in. People with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. want to be understood, but it can be next to impossible to explain to those around us...

For awhile I have been someone who enjoys sad songs. I like how they make me feel. No this isn't some dark and twisty thing... but more something in comparison to that subdued yet refreshed feeling after waking up from a two hour nap. I like how certain notes release certain chemical reactions in my brain causing me to feel something.  Then I realized that there was a lot of music out there that reminded me (explicitly or metaphorically) about what it means to live with mental health struggles. So I thought I would compile a list of my top songs that get mental health in order to possibly create an increase in understanding among those who want to learn more. 

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4. Gone Away by: Safety Suit

"Cause I'll be fine, oh don't you worry cause I'll be fine, you see I'm in a hurry to be gone away awhile." 

This is more of a stretched interpretation but the beauty of music is that it can mean different things to different people. But the main theme is about escaping. It talks about memories and the desire to simply get away from it all. Yet the tones hint at a sense of anger which reminds me of times where we try to convince people we are okay when really we need help. 

3. Breathing by: Ingrid Michaelson

"All we can do is keep breathing, all that I know is I'm breathing."

Another song that's not explicitly about mental health but encapsulates feelings that can be hard to articulate. The verses describe destruction going on around the world but then describe how all we can do is breath. Sometimes within the realm of mental health, there is not a lot that can be done during certain moments. But the biggest help one could give someone who is struggling is to remind them to keep breathing. They are here, they are alive, you are continuing to breath together. 

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2. Sour Breath by: Julien Baker

"The harder I swim the faster I sink"

If you don't know anything about Julien Baker, you really need to. She has experienced struggles with addiction and mental health. Her songs are devastating but oh so beautiful. This song speaks a lot to addiction and the toxic relationships that come along with that. 

1. Appointments by: Julien Baker

" Maybe it's all gonna turn out alright and I know that its not but I have to believe that it is"

Yes Julien Baker is my top two. Because she gets it. Never has a piece of art understood depression so deeply. If you are going to only listen to one of these songs, make it this one. 

Now I don't want you to look at this as just a mini playlist to make you sad. Yes it may make you sad but allow it to open your mind. Increased understanding is only a good thing. 

 

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Queer Eye, CMBYN, and Mr. Rogers

There is a breakthrough happening in our world. And it's happening through two of my favorite mediums: Movies and television. More and more productions are being made that are not only gaining popularity but they are allowing viewers to do something they haven't done in awhile: give themselves permission to feel. 

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I recently went and saw the Mr. Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? And like most people, I was completely wrecked by the time the credits rolled. The theater that was playing this movie had people placing full boxes of tissues next to each seat. I had heard many people on social media posting about how the theater was doing this and initially I thought it was a cute little added bonus to the movie going experience. Then when I thought about it more I realized that whether or not intended, this was a big deal. I looked at it as a symbol of unity among the viewers. An expression of "hey we know this message is going to impact everyone, do not feel like you need to hide." And of course throughout the last half of the film you hear a chorus of sniffles and people pulling at the tissue box. I looked around the theater and noticed a man repeatedly taking off his glasses in order to wipe his face.  I then thought of all the men who have and will be watching this movie. How many of them would reflect on their childhood and finally let their suppressed emotions be free. Obviously women struggle with bottling things up but I think there is a movement coming and being emotional will not longer be associated with being "un- manly". Being emotional is just part of being a person.

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I went home and put on one of my favorites Call Me By Your Name, which I've written about here before in one of my earlier blog posts. While this is not a movie I would recommend everyone seeing (the age gap in the relationship can be a little weird) I found it so fascinating to hear people tell me what they thought of this film. The overall response was it was a film that just allowed them to BE. The story is just simply human, about people trying to find purpose and meaning. The journey to this discovery can be awkward or uncomfortable but at the end of this film it drives home the point that suppressing feeling will only lead to humans being more miserable. We have to tend to the fires of our pain and feeling, not blow it out.  

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Now talking about how Queer Eye is changing the world could really be its own novel. And wow is this show changing the world. I don't think the world was expecting how moved it would be by a revamp reality makeover show. Like my other examples here it is giving humans permission to break down. It examines human lives and shows the world that we all share the same humanity. People want to love and be loved. I love it when Mamma Tammy (Season 2 episode 1) talks to the fab five about how The Lord knew what He was doing when he put these men together and now look at the impact that has taken place. And how each and every one of them is God's son. Seeing the guys emotional response to a southern christian woman tell them they are loved and adored by God is life changing.  

Whether you are a man, woman, gay, straight, young, old, black, white (I could go on forever) you deserve to feel free. You deserve to dig up the pain from your past then leave it at the door. More and more of us are realizing this truth. More and more of us are seeing that we are not all that different. Nothing is uniting us more right now than the power of vulnerability. We are truly not alone and we can do this whole life thing together, just don't forget the tissues. 

The World Needs Your Art

Lately, I've been feeling less than inspired. I feel like my head is spinning with a million half ideas with no clue how to execute them, then my mind just goes blank. And that can be a really tough feeling. To feel like there is so much you want to be able to do...but for some reason you can't go passed that point. I don't like that. 

Then there are those moments of doubt. Those moments where we can doubt are abilities so we do nothing. We can compare our gifts to others and feel inadequate. But here is what I have learned: The World needs your art.

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Maybe you are looking at yourself saying you are not "a creative" but you are. Everyone needs an outlet of expression and everyone has an ability to add something special to the world. When I see people pursuing their creative dreams I feel so much joy. Maybe it does not grant them "success" but they keep at it. Because they know who they are and they know they are meant to feel that joy when the brush hits the canvas or when that first sound hits the microphone.  

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I remember about 8 months ago I was with my good friend and we were flipping through a modern photography book. As I flipped through the pages I vocally expressed my annoyance at how simple the concepts were and said the cliched phrase "this is dumb I could totally do that." Then my friend quickly added "but you didn't, and this person did." Now this interaction was very much in a joking manor but it stuck with me. I knew there was so much I could be doing but I wasn't. I am very thankful for that spring board of inspiration that really pushed me to do more. 

So whatever skills you posses (and you do have skills) we need them. I need them. The world needs your interpretation. Want to be a photographer? PLEASE DO IT. You deserve to have your interpretation be seen by the world. Who cares if everyone and their mom is being a photographer, I'm sure they won't mind if you become one too. So make your movie, paint a picture, build a table, write a book, I can't wait to see it. 


Here are some Instagram accounts that inspired this blog post (you should follow them):

@jack_the_cheney

@canceledplansmusic

@m_r_s_love

And if you want to follow on my art journey:

@m.love.designs

More Than A TV Show

To Matthew, for all the nights we spent watching TV waiting for our lives to get better, I think its safe to say we've made it. 

I want to write to you today about one of the most important things in my life. Something that changed my life and the lives of those I surrounded myself with. I want to write to you today about NBC's The Office. 

Now before you go into reading this post thinking it'll be something humorous or silly, I want you to know this is something that is actually a really serious deal to me, and I would love to share why to you, lovely reader, so lets begin. 

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I have this very vague memory of 2005, I was in fifth grade. I remember finally being able to stay up past 8 o clock and watch prime time shows with my brother. I was so excited to finally do something that a "big kid" would do and also excited to share a common interest with my super cool big brother. Those are about all the details I can remember from The Office entering my life because honestly, when I look back on my life its hard to remember the times where this show wasn't in it.  

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It was cool to grow up developing a quirky and odd sense of humor that would completely fit in at Dunder Mifflin. Or to go through all of my awkward boy crush's while Jim and Pam kept dancing around the fact that they loved one another.  And to then feel extreme heartbreak my last year of High school while Jim and Pam where experiencing tough marital issues. We were experiencing life at the same time. 

I remember many instances when I would have some depressive episodes, and I would lay on the couch and watch re runs of The Office for hours. It felt like home to me. Then there were times my brother would come into my room when I would be so distraught I had no idea what to do, and he would ask if I wanted to watch The Office. We would sit together, not talking but just enjoying each others company. It reminded me of one of the my favorite ways therapists tell you to be there for someone: you don't give advice, you don't talk, but you are simply present. It still to this day is one of the greatest gifts I could've ever been given. 

As I got older I loved researching behind the scenes of the show. Seeing how almost every actor was kind and caring, and also truly loved the people they were working with. I will never forget the week after my 16th birthday, it was Steve Carrel's last episode. I sat on my couch in tears as my favorite TV character closed a chapter in my favorite story. I loved how the moment when Pam says goodbye to him in the airport was a true and genuine moment. Jenna Fisher was actually telling Steve Carrel how much she loved him and how much she would miss working with him.  To this day I can't watch that moment without crying. 

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The point is that things can be brought into our lives and be used in a much greater way than we could ever imagine. That's just how God works.  Me and my brother would bond with our friend Jenny over watching the office, only a few more years later Jenny would become his wife and the best addition to our family. The last episode of the show aired the night before my last day of high school. Matthew and I invited many friends over as we laughed and cried and enjoyed our time together. I went into my last day of high school excited and ready to take on whatever the world had for me. And of course I now have days where I doubt, but I just remember that young girl who knew she could conquer the world. 

"No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home." - Creed Bratton

 

Why I Hate Waiting Rooms

Waiting rooms make me uncomfortable. Doctors stress me out. I think the dentist is a terrible place to be. Obviously I felt this way as a kid but in a way it has almost gotten worse as I have gotten older. Now this is not some irrational fear that I have but more a growing discomfort at how uncomfortable these places have become.

I remember how much of a pain it was to move states and change doctors simply because I take medicine on an ongoing basis. When I arrived in Florida, I remember meeting with my new doctor and how much I hated the experience. I remember being weighed for the first time in about six months (cause I really don't think we should be weighing ourselves all the time) and the number was not something I wanted. Yet five minutes before I was feeling fine...and a stupid number acted like a wrecking ball to my self esteem. Then my doctor proceeded to ask me why I took so much medicine...she kept repeating herself "wow this is a lot...do you really need this much?" My normally confident self became paralyzed. I hate that it is so hard to stand up to someone just because they have a white coat on. Because I knew the way she was speaking to me was not professional and it made me feel judged. 

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Back in March I made a visit to the hospital to meet a psychiatrist. Nothing major, just a simple check up on my medication. Yet I was nervous. Once I got there I had to fill out the typical new patient paper work and that may be my least favorite part. You look at a list of symptoms and have to check off a box...to show why you are here. The principle of that just bothers me. "OK, I have anxiety, check the box." Have I accomplished something? Have I made my way down a to do list? I don't think so.

Now lets talk about my ultimate favorite...the dentist. The typical dentist fear I have gotten over, what I may never get over is there ongoing interest in having to know about my non "dentist related" medicine I take. The last time I went to the dentist, the dental assistant told me that the medicine I take may have something to do with the fact that I grind my teeth in my sleep. I politely told her that I new this already (when I could have raised my voice and let her know this is something that has been going on in my life over ten years and I am very educated on this matter) she looked at me surprised then proceeded to treat me like a delicate child. I was there just to get basic x rays done.   

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So for those of you out there who have maybe just started making your own appointments, or have been doing it for years, I am proud of you. I hope we can learn and grow together, while learning to ask the right questions to people such as doctors and dentist. As well as learn to stick up for ourselves when we feel uncomfortable.

13 Reasons Why: Thoughts and Opinions

Last week I finished the second season of the controversial Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Like most people who have watched this season I finished feeling angry, frustrated and sad. Many times throughout these 13 episodes I yelled at the tv,  or cursed at my laptop late at night, and texted my friend Rachel in all capital letters sharing my various thoughts. Unlike a lot of people I don't hate this show. I find the story gripping and the characters interesting. But there is so much more about this show that needs to be unpacked that goes far beyond a gripping story. 

Now lets take a few steps back: I believe the first season was quiet good. While I would get frustrated about how this show was advertised as a tool to spread mental health awareness instead of a tool to shed light on bullying, I thought it was a well made show. The acting was good and it talked about some very real and timely problems.  I finished the first season with even more of a passion to make sure that younger generations feel seen and valued. Of course the first season is not without it's problems but those have been discussed in length for over a year now.  When I look at the second season however, I did not leave that viewing experience inspired to change the world and make it better, I felt far more troubled. 

The second seasons picks up a short time after the first season finishes. Hannah Bakers parents are suing her high school for being responsible for her suicide/not helping when they easily could have. Each episode goes through a different character(s) testifying in order to help either Hannah's parents or the school. As I watched each episode I felt further invested into the story. I wanted to see some sort of justice come about for the many injustices that have taken place on this show. Topics such as sexual assault, bullying and gun violence are discussed and portrayed on this show (as many of you already know). I firmly believe these topics should not be avoided but I sit here wrestling with this idea that the show runners intentions have been vastly misplaced. 

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(Mature Content and Spoilers From This Point On)

My main issue with the second season is the last episode. As is the issue for many more individuals who have watched this show. The last episode shows the characters finally being able to have a funeral for Hannah. Speeches are made that speak to the idea of closure as well as being able to let go of people we love. The sentiments are heartfelt and important, showing the audience that there is a time and place to move forward from tragedy.  There is then a sequence showing everyone resuming Hannah's celebration of life at the local coffee shop. Everyone is displaying what true community should be and you see the characters finally coming to terms with the tragedy's that have taken place. Even Jessica, a key character discusses the peace she finally feels even though her and Hannah's rapist didn't end up getting jail time. Everything begins to wrap up nicely and would've been a fine end to this series. 

Then the last half hour of the episode happens. We see one of the male characters, Tyler (seen as an outcast) be brutally sexually assaulted by a group of guys on the baseball team. It is absolutely horrifying. Tyler then shows up to the school dance with multiple firearms ready to make his own justice. Luckily he is stopped by the main character, Clay. Now I am normally not the kind of person who would shy away from certain content to make a point, but in this context it just feels so wrong. Mental health experts who worked on the show even stated that trying to be "the hero" and stop a shooter in that manner is not what you should do. 

Brian Yorkey, the executive producer of the show, talks about how Tyler's scenes were made the way they were in order for the audience to experience radical empathy. He said the purpose was so that whatever feelings one may have for Tyler's character that in the moment of seeing his assault, we all feel his pain therefore showing we all share the same humanity. He also talks about how not portraying X, Y, and Z in the media does not make it go away, it only means we are not talking about it. There is a part of me that could see his side but looking back on this shows second season and how it started to organically wrap up the only purpose I could see with these scenes is: shock value and making money. I feel as though my opinion was even more confirmed when I found out this show was renewed for a third season. Let us not forget that the entire first season covered the book it was based off of. There are no more books, and it feels like the story is just grasping at straws. 

So much more could be said about this show and the topics surrounding it but I will wrap up with this: this is a show that has been marketed to a younger audience and that is dangerous. The ideas presented are dangerous. There are better ways to help our beloved youth and exploiting tragedy in order to shock people is not the way to do it. 

Singleness And Sunday School

I am single. I've been single for a long time. I love being single, I really do. I love only having to worry about my schedule and doing activities that I like to do. But I am also frustrated about relationships. Not in the way you may be thinking but more in the sense that I believe I was mis-educated about relationships most of my life. So today I want to unpack some things that I wish I had not been taught. 


Lets talk about good ole Sunday school. First off, the older I get the more I cringe at the things church taught me when I was a kid. I have a vague memory from maybe 6th grade of an illustration that was done during morning youth group. We were shown a paper heart that was supposed to represent our own. We were told a hypothetical story about us going through a middle school break up, a high school break up, then a broken engagement. Each time a break up happened a bigger piece of the paper heart was ripped off then we were left with a small piece of what used to be so much bigger. Maybe a fair point was driven home after this ridiculous demonstration but I am going to talk about this how I remember it. That made me feel like I should avoid relationships. It made me feel like relationships were a bad thing. So why try them? But what about the fact that God can heal any form of heart break? And maybe the fact that a relationship that doesn't end in a marriage and children is not something we have to regret?

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Something else I have been bothered by is making young people feel bad for being in relationships. When I was in  high school it felt like every adult would shame anyone my age for having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Now I know there are a lot of exceptions to this and most young relationships do not last... but why should we always think young+relationship= bad news? Are we talking to younger people about their relationships or are we automatically placing judgment on them? I never had a serious relationship in middle or high school, but I know lots of people who have and they have lasted a long time. And yes I also know lots of people who had relationships young and it was a disaster. Some younger folks date because they feel pressured into it... like they need to be dating. But I firmly believe not all are this way. And if two high schoolers have a serious relationship and it doesn't end in marriage, well I don't think any part of them should wish they never dated in high school. There is a place to learn and grow from everything without regret. So lets try to not write off couples because they are "too young" but instead get to know these individuals and see why they've ended up where they are. 

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When I would think about my future partner, I would think it would be someone that I was friends with first then we would begin a romantic relationship. I think that is another issue that needs to be brought up. Yes, I firmly believe your partner should be your best friend. But I think we (especially Christians) can get so caught up in this idea that we won't try to find someone for ourselves. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me the moment I stopped looking for my future husband that he would basically appear, I would be very rich. And honestly, that makes me angry.  What is wrong with Christians dating? I used to think it was so wrong for a woman to go out with a man once then go out with a different man the next week. Why shouldn't I search for my ideal partner? Now I go back in forth looking for someone and also wanting nothing to do with dating. Is that why I haven't found someone yet? Because I'm not all together giving up on the search and letting him find me? No. It's because I do not know what I want yet. And that is okay! 


Some weeks I feel like I have so much love to give, other weeks the idea of a relationship makes me want to crawl into a hole and stay there. So moral of the story is, I think a lot of christian woman have been brought up believing the wrong ideas about dating and relationships. Like most seasons in life; the point is to focus on becoming the best versions of ourselves with The Lords guidance and everything else will fall into its proper place. 

Having It All

There is always a hesitancy to claim this but I've got Jesus so I need to own this season: This may be the happiest I have been in a very long time. Looking at where my life is some may say "Really, Michaela?!" but its true.


 What I find so fascinating about human beings is there ability to adapt and make a situation great even if circumstances are not that way. Most of you know I have moved a few times, and there was a moment where I thought, I will never feel settled down, I would be in one place, feel connection, then leave to go somewhere else. Even though I've been blessed to go back and visit those places or have people come visit me, that was almost worse than moving. You have a piece of your heart put somewhere else then when you have one of those visits your heart feels more complete only to be broken yet again. I remember the first time I went back to visit a place I had moved away from, I was 17 at the time. I remember coming to the realization that after this trip was done, I would say my goodbyes all over again. Each year after that was like living in a painful and continuous loop. So as I mentioned before, I decided I would always feel unsettled and I came to terms with that as well as accepted it. The intention behind that realization was good, I still believe that, but I think there was a part of me that was willing to not live the best life that God has for me. 

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This isn't going to be a blog post about the "5 easy steps to making your life perfect" because there is not formula to it. And also my life is far from perfect. In fact there are so many things going on that are really hard. Yet I sit here so happy. Confusing? Maybe. But why should it be? I get so sad when I see myself (or even more so with others) being depressed because they are so not okay with how their life is.  We are not meant to live like this. Our lives are constantly changing and we are being put in situations where we are always needing to adjust somehow. And that can make us feel like maybe we will never be happy or worse, never find joy. Luckily joy can win against any circumstance. And wow am I so grateful for that. 

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Recently, I went back to Michigan (where I used to live) for a second visit. Now this is the first place I have gone back to visit more than once since I have moved. It was an amazing time. And maybe first the first time I was able to go there, have the best time, enjoy every moment and still feel happy to go back to Florida and enjoy everything God's given me there. Ya'll this is a huge deal...something that took about six years to figure out. I finally understood how to have both: love what I currently have and really that's it. Because loving what I "used" to have in places I used to live in isn't the right phrasing. No that life there is not mine but the love of the memories and the people will always be mine. Michigan will always feel like home, but that doesn't always mean it's where I need to be. We can make anywhere our home, and our life can flourish . I love where I live, I love where I used to live. Life is good. 

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Maybe you haven't moved a lot and the connection does not make sense to you. But I want you to know this: even if your life seems out of control you still have the ability to have joy. My life is not perfect but right now where I am sitting, I am the most joyful girl in the world. Because God wants to give me every single blessing and He feels the same way about you. I am thankful for you, lets continue on this crazy wonderful adventure of life. 

 All the love, Michaela 

All the love, Michaela 

Big Girl Job Reflections.

The first semester of my first "big girl" job has come to a close (until summer programs begin), therefor I thought it would be a good idea to sort of reflect on these past few months. With the nature of my job I cannot be crazy specific or include pictures of me on the job but I still believe some good can come out of this post so lets get started:

I suck at my job. And I am 100% okay with that. This is not some self deprecating statement or something that I am claiming so people will pay me compliments or feel sorry for me. That is really not the case. For most of high school and college and had mentorship roles in many young ladies lives and I felt like I was pretty awesome at it. I loved the girls and the girls loved me. Over all it was a near perfect situation. So when I saw an opportunity to apply for a girls mentorship non profit I instantly thought I would be a shoe in and would also rock this job... it would be a piece of cake. 

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During that time I am sure God was chuckling and saying "Michaela you have no idea what I have in store for you." I remember coming home from my first full day...as soon as I walked through my front door I cried harder than I had in a very long time. The days always went back and forth from being extremely difficult to being sort of hard. I wanted so badly to relate to these girls but I knew nothing about what most of them go through. In the school district I help out in about 20% of children come from a two parent home. That means 80% of those kids live with one parent. On my first day I remember telling a girl to put a toy away and she could bring it back out when her parents came to pick her up. She asked me if I meant parent because she only had one. Her voice was so normal, like she assumed that was not what I meant to say. 

The girls would make references to things I knew nothing about. It was like I was a seventy-five year old in a room of teenagers. If I had a nickle for every time one of them said something along the lines of them not liking me I would be very rich. Many days it would feel like I was trying way to hard and nothing felt natural. Some days I would get a hug from the same girl who yelled at me the day before. Other days I would have a genuine deep conversation with one of the girls then she would go back to disliking me the next day. I would think to myself "This is supposed to be my thing, this was what I was good at."

During this time I thought back to my second to last semester of college. One of my classmates had shared something very profound. She was about to go off to her big girl gig and The Lord reminded her of something: she was not qualified for what she was doing, none of us are. But God would give her the tools she needed. Then a dear friend of mine sent me a quote talking about how when we are in a place where we have no clue what we are doing, feel unqualified, confused, scared, etc. that is exactly where God wants us. He is using us for something so much bigger than we could ever imagine. We just can't see it right now. 

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My job has more difficult days than it has easy ones. But wow is this job so important. I have been so incredibly humbled by Jesus. He showed me that no matter how much I think I know, there is always more. He showed me that my strength as a human will get me nowhere but He will get me everywhere. He showed me that there is so much more I need to learn about racial and social inequality... because no matter how many hashtags we use or articles we share, we will never understand even a fraction of another persons pain. Research and awareness are great but it means nothing until you look someone in the eyes who lives differently than you. And even then there is still so much more that can be done. 

Be thankful for the challenges. Be thankful for learning. Be thankful for hard work that may not get recognized. It sucks. But when you can come to a place of acceptance and lay down your pride, the overflow of joy from that pain is the sweetest thing there is. 

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No I Won't Smile For You

Raise your hand if there has been a time where you have been minding your own business, whether in your office or walking around the store, and someone approached you and told you to smile? Maybe they said "you'd look more pretty if you smiled" or "You really should smile more." or maybe my personal favorite "You look tired" (yes this falls into the same category). An even bigger favorite is when a stranger tells you to smile and then they try to flirt with you (I could really go on for a while). 

I am aware that these kinds of situations can happen to so many different kinds of people, men or woman. But I think it is safe to bet that this happens all the time to so many woman. And the people who give this "advice" or mostly men. 

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When I was in college, I lived and worked near campus, as did most people I knew. Therefore we were always walking everywhere. It became almost a daily occurrence where I was hearing that a female friend was being told to smile as she walked to work, or to class. I hated how often this was going on. So one day I took to Facebook to vent (yes I know, not always a great idea). I explained how it is very unappreciated when people are told they should smile, or are told they look tired, etc. I said that many of us are just trying to get through the day and most of the time, the people addressing us have no idea what are day has been like. After the status was posted many woman took to the comments. It was awesome. They all vented to each other and let out their frustrations, and all supported one another. I felt very happy to see some positive dialogue happening on social media.

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Then a couple men crashed the comments. Certain things were said such as "Lighten up" or "Whoa lets just be happy now". Lemme tell you I was furious. I then took to Instagram saying that Women will lighten up when Men decide to grow up. Following this post I received comments from different men saying they totally supported me and that I should keep fighting the good fight. 

I am very thankful for those men. I am also thankful to the men who left the Facebook comments. Both groups included good men that I have known for years. More times than not, this issue revolves around men speaking down to women. But I think at an even larger scale it is about humans: We do not know how to deal with the "negative emotions" of others. People see someone who doesn't "appear" happy and they get uncomfortable. (Now this does not excuse the actions that I have previously mentioned, because sometimes people are just being a**holes). But I think so many people are getting uncomfortable with others "lack of happiness" and for some reason think it is that other persons responsibility to fix their discomfort.  

You do not have to be happy all the time. You do not have to look happy all the time. Keep working hard and doing good like you do every day. You don't owe the jerk on the street or that obnoxious co worker anything. I know there are so many more sides to this issue that I did not address here today but I'd love to have a productive discussion with you about it. Never hesitate to email me. 

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A little side note, I even felt nervous with the photos I took for this. I felt like I needed to maybe include photos of me smiling. But then I chose not too. I love the way I look in photos where I do not smile. Its intense, and I think it is beautiful. 

Finally, to the rest of you, please do not comment on how someones face looks. It is rude. If you feel uncomfortable when someone isn't showing 100% happiness, ask yourself why? We all are going through things everyday that are not easy. And on days we aren't, sometimes that is just how someones face rests. And no matter what they are beautiful and should never apologize for it. 

Coffee Chats: My Dad (Part 2)

Welcome back friends! Here is the rest of the interview from 2 weeks ago. I hope you enjoy:


Christians believe that Jesus is going to return and renew our earth, has this mindset affected how Christians treat the world now?  What type of responsibilities should Christians embody when it comes to taking care of our earth? 

 

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Yes, the Christian Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus will one day restore/renew all things in heaven and on earth – it is a universal, cosmic restoration (Col. 1:20).  The restoring work of Christ is as wide as creation itself, it is not limited to people only (people are the center of that restoration, but not the circumference – that is the rest of creation).  Unfortunately, not all Christians have allowed this important truth to be represented or reflected in their lifestyle – particularly as it relates to how they treat and steward creation around them.  For some it has, and for that I am grateful.  As Christ followers (as this goes all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis) we have a responsibility to practice what is called ecological justice – to steward our land responsibly and with care. 

 

I love how many neighborhoods and churches are putting this into practice by creating community gardens, being intentional with recycling projects and events, and making sure pastors drive a Prius.  These are just some ways to demonstrate responsibility.  A number of years ago, I heard about a church that wanted to build a new facility by using only recyclable products – now that’s commitment!  To have dominion over the land (to use a Genesis expression) does not mean to dominate it, it means to steward it wisely as a gift from God – not just for our generation, but for all other generations to follow; that is why we are to “till and keep” the land (allow the land to serve us while at the same time preserving it … serve and preserve as the saying goes).

The Incarnation teaches us many things – and one of those things it teaches us, is that matter matters to God … so it should matter to us.  So why not take a moment right now and go hug a tree - also, look at it directly and say, “I am Root”, and see what happens.

 

Many Christians use church doctrines (teachings) as a form of judgement over/against people – what are your thoughts on this?

 As the Apostle Paul put it, the goal of all doctrine/instruction is love (see 1 Timothy 1:5).  Let me unpack this a bit by sharing what I believe truth to be all about.

 

What sets people free is truth – not truth as a rational entity, but as a relational one.  Jesus says it is the truth that frees us, and that he himself is truth – so it is a relationship with Jesus that ultimately sets us free – free to being and living into all that God created us to be.  And Jesus was pretty clear about his mission on earth – he did not come to condemn (i.e. judge) the world but to save it (see John 3:17).  

 

I love how the Beloved disciple describes truth: Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18).  Here we see that John equates truth, not with words or speech, but with loving action.  Truth is love that is embodied in an action towards someone – that is what I mean by truth being a relational enterprise, not a rational one.  In saying this, I am not saying truth is irrational – far from it!  Truth solely as a rational entity becomes a fact, and facts do not set people free.  For example, Fact:  Jesus is Lord – that will not set you free; Truth:  embrace Jesus as Lord in your life – that will set you free … you see the difference? 

 

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It is therefore, my conviction, that doctrine, church teachings, Biblical instruction, etc. are ultimately about bringing liberation and freedom to people – similar to putting a fish stuck on a beach back in water or an uprooted plant back into good soil and sunlight (or at the least, pouring water over the fish and giving the plant a taste of healthy soil/sunlight). The water we were created to swim in, the soil we were meant to be planted in, is love.  So, when we connect with people in love, patiently and intentionally overtime, (not holding their sins against them – remember that is the kind of love Jesus exhibited [see 2 Cor. 5:19 along with 1 Cor. 13:4-8]) we are bringing the water, the soil and the sunlight they need! And in doing this we will awaken them to their inner most longing to be in a relationship with Jesus, and their hunger to jump into that divine water!

 

This is what the “perfect love” that John is writing about in 1 John 4:18 – a love that casts out fear and has nothing to do with punishment.  Love is not judgmental, it is invitational.  Jesus took on all judgement upon him by dying on the cross – ALL OF IT!  So, I say, whatever the circumstance, the sin, the brokenness, the pain, the shame, the guilt is – let’s all move towards people with loving kindness and allow Love to prevail!

(Note: Some might ask, but what about all those harsh teachings of Jesus – like his 7 woes in Matthew 23 or his teaching in Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats?  That’s another blog for another time – but let me say this now, many have taken these verses [and many other similar ones] out of their unique context; and because of this have misunderstood what Jesus’ is teaching).


Thank you all for listening. I hope you enjoyed this first series of coffee chats. xoxo.

Coffee Chats: My Dad (Part 1)

Let me introduce George Allan Love, also known as Allan, also known as my dad. I've wanted to do a scattered series of sorts where I interview people with different backgrounds and skill sets. Nothing is better then broadening our horizons. Picking my first interviewee was a no brainer. My dad has a bachelors in Theology, Masters in Biblical Studies, and a Doctoral degree in Missional Leadership. Most of my interactions with intellectuals can honestly can be quiet aggravating, but never with my dad. I've always loved the way his mind works and how he uses his knowledge to better the world. He sees the world in such a humble way and greatly inspires me to pursue what God has for me, not for personal gain, but because it is whats right. 

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I popped over on Instagram to see what kind of questions you wanted me to ask him and ya'll came up with some GREAT stuff. Since we both found the great importance of the questions you were asking we thought it would be best to break this up into a few parts so each question got the attention it deserves. 


Q: First off, for those who don't know you that well, how would you describe yourself? Likes, dislikes, favorite pass times?

For those who see the value in personality profiling (as I do – there, you’ve already learnt one thing about me that I like) I’m a mixed-breed on the Enneagram (Type 3 and 5 – an intellectual achiever), and E/ISTJ on the Myers Brigg Type (Executor-Driver), Red-Zone Reformer on the Insights Discovery Profile, and most importantly, a child of God, on the Bible scale.  Descriptors that have been used by others for me (which I resonate with) are: passionate, determined, sexy (okay – that may not have been said about me), focused and resilient.  I may come across … no let’s be honest and change that … I do come across as non-emotive to some, but I feel my emotions very deeply – and I know this because I find myself listening, often, to Josh Groban and tearing up.

I love to read and run, as well chill with family and friends over coffee or a nice glass of white wine.  I dislike people who talk too much, but not when they have drunk to much wine, because that can be very funny!  I enjoy a good crime-thriller movie every-once in-a-while.  When I took those career tests in high-school my top result was a detective, but pastoring paid so much more, I decided to go in that direction.

Ultimately, I am a human who is learning to see that every element of life is ready to burst forth the beauty, glory, and love of God – we just need to be willing look long enough to see it.

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Q: How do you think your education has impacted your personality?

I am truly grateful for my educational journey that has taken me all the way through a doctorate degree.  I went to institutions that encouraged and equipped me to think outside the box, and to color beyond the lines.  At times, boxes and lines can be good and necessary, like when you need to wrap a birthday present or know where the 400m race finishes, but when it comes to innovative and fresh thinking they can be an impediment.  On the Strengths-Finder profile my top strength is that of a Learner – there is a part of me that is a perpetual student, so my education has fueled that part of me.  At the same time, however, knowledge (this is the Type 5 in me) has become for me on more occasions that I would like to admit, a security blanket, as well as a protective shield that I have been able to hide behind when I feel insecure.  So, I need to be mindful of this reality and intentional in addressing it.  

Q: Was there any information you learned during your educational journey that really challenged you? Did it change the way you approached your faith?

I grew up in a broken home (my parents separated when I was 8 years old which wreaked havoc on my emotions/soul) which transitioned me from a homo-sapien to a solo-sapien – doing life on my own because people could not be trusted (they will always let you down). A big and challenging part of my education was that true transformative learning needed to happen in community and relationships, that’s how we have been created.  Learning in isolation (whatever the topic or subject) will always lead to some form on insulation, limiting my growth as a human being and Christ-follower.  True learning happens in the fiber and fabric of real, authentic, life-on-life relationships.  

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Q: Could you talk about your take on egalitarianism and complementarianism  as well as  what the Bible says about it... can the church be doing better when it comes to female pastors and church leaders?

I consider myself both a complementarian and an egalitarian.  Complementarian in that God created male and female each with unique characteristics that are to complement each other; and precisely because of that, we truly need each other in the equal and full expression of all gifts - especially with the gifts leadership, pastoring, and teaching … and that is why I am an egalitarian.  This, is what I believe the narrative of Scripture says about this most important subject.  There are segments in the church universal that need to recognize how they have stunted, caged and neutered the full expression of so many gifts by limiting how certain gifts are exercised based on one’s sex.  In doing this, churches are (re)marginalizing what God has come to un-marginalize, and this breaks my heart.  So, yes, there are churches that could do a much better job.


Stay tuned for more next week. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen. The point of this is to simply learn and open our minds to what the knowledge of an individual other than ourselves can bring to the table.

 

23 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self.

This month I am turning 23. I absolutely love this month. I love the smell of spring and the anticipation of being able to celebrate with loved ones when that special day comes. Other peoples birthday's are one of my favorite things in the world so the excitement only increases when my turn roles around. Yet despite all that, there is always a certain level of stress that can come with turning a year older. I have felt that in years past, but looking back I see I had nothing to worry about. Many times I wish I could talk to myself when I was younger...so instead, in honor of my birthday month, here are 23 things I would tell my younger self:

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1. Wearing make up is not bad, and doesn't make you a shallow person. Same goes with fashion and shopping. 

2. Remember you do not always have to fix everything. Let your life be a mess for a little bit. This does not mean you're a failure. 

3. Availability does not equal friendship. 

4. Stop going on bread and pasta fasts. Its not worth it.

5. Its okay to be friends with your parents. 

6. Its okay to break up with friends.

7. Never be embarrassed or ashamed by your past choices.

8. Your pant size is just a number.

9. Stop trying to fit into your old clothes when they make you feel uncomfortable. You'll be back in them one day. 

10. Remember to receive grace. 

11. Sometimes you need to be selfish. 

12. 27 Dresses is not that great of a movie and you really don't need to watch it so much.

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13. Stand up for yourself. 

14. You're mom is a lot smarter than you

15. Risks are always worth it. 

16. Scary movies are more fun than Rom Coms.

17. Her success is not your failure. Celebrate the victories of others.

18. People will show you they care in different ways than you would show them, and that is a good thing. 

19. There is nothing The Office and eating ice cream can't fix. 

20. Never try to avoid being sad, with great pain comes even grater joy. 

21.  Take all the personality and love language tests, then make your friends take it.

22. Be faithful to every process.

23. I love you.


I hope you all have a happy Tuesday. You're killing it and I'm proud of who you were and who you are.